Thanx Gwen!

Thanx Gwen!

I’ll bet you are wondering who Gwen is and why I am thanking her on my blog.  Let me tell you the story of Gwen.

I was raising a young daughter on my own and needed to supplement my income so I could buy food and clothing after all my other bills were paid.  You know the story….dead beat Dad.  Anyhow, I had a dear friend whose father owned a very busy and elite diner back in New Jersey and he arranged a part-time job for me despite the fact that I didn’t have experience.  Other, more experienced waitresses were lined up waiting for a job at Jim’s Diner.  Always busy, great tips, good place to work.  I was VERY lucky to have gotten in, especially with no experience.

Gwen was the hostess; and I don’t mean the hostess with the most-est either.  She basically was a very strict woman.  But, as I learned over time, she had to be mean to run the diner with the precision and customer focus she utilized to keep the customers coming back time after time.

The more experienced waitresses provided basic training like where things were, what side dishes came with what entrees, how to set the tables, side work at the end of your shift, menu items, etc.  I got all these items down pat pretty quickly because I was anxious to start taking tables on my own and make some money.

Gwen was the final check point as you left the kitchen with your tray of food.  She would eyeball the tray and if you were serving steak, notice if you were missing something and ask where are your steak knives and steak sauce?  Or if you were serving seafood, where were your lemons and tartar sauce?  It was infuriating for me.  It was a VERY busy diner and you often would get 3 or 4 tables at once which would make it very hard to manage with excellence.  As a result, I would ALWAYS forget something and Gwen would once again get the better of me as I was leaving the kitchen.  Ooooh, I got so mad at myself. 

Then a light went on in my head.  If I were sitting at that table in that diner and ordered seafood what would I want with it when it was served?  Lemon, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, cocktail fork, crackers, and a package of hand wipes.  So, when I into the kitchen to get the salad I would load all those things I would like with seafood on a small plate and deliver that when I delivered the salad.  When I carried the tray out of the kitchen Gwen would ask me where my lemons were and I would reply, “already on the table.”  She would then ask me where the tartar sauce was and I would reply, “already on the table,” and so on…. 

Gwen only asked me a few more times before she was confident that I knew what I should be bringing to the customer and would actually bring it. 

The gratification I felt for thwarting her was wonderful.  Then it suddenly occurred to me that the only emotion I should be feeling is gratitude!

Gwen, strict as she was, showed me the true meaning of customer service – to anticipate what a customer wants and give it to them before they ask! 

 So Gwen where ever you are, Thank you.  You taught me a lesson I use every day in every aspect of my life.

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